Wish you could play killer guitar licks every time you pick up your guitar? The truth is many guitar players think that great guitar licks are made by playing specific notes or scales. However, this usually not the case. As you will find out in this article (and video), the key to playing killer guitar phrases is focusing on ‚Äòhow' you play - not necessarily which notes you use.
In a few moments, you will discover just how easy it is to make your own guitar licks sound killer regardless of the notes you are using. On top of that, you will find out how to do this every single time you play guitar.
The first action you need to take (right now) is to watch the short video on this page to see an exact demonstration of the main ideas in this article. By watching the video, you will massively increase your ability to absorb the ideas and use them to improve your own guitar playing. Additionally, the video will help you get the most value from the lead guitar phrasing exercise you will find below. Check out the video now, then come back to read the rest of this article.
Now that you have seen the demonstrations in the video, implement the following steps to empower your guitar licks:
Step 1: Think of a lead guitar lick that you can play accurately. The lick you select can be in any style, using any notes. Alternatively, improvise a new (short) guitar lick. Then play through this lick a few times.
Step 2: As you watch the guitar licks video above, you will see how I use slides in several different ways to emphasize the last note in a guitar phrase. Grab a piece of paper and write out a list of descriptions of how to perform all the different variations you observe in the video (use a single sentence or less to describe each one). Writing this down and thinking about it on your own is more valuable than me ‚Äògiving' you the list of variations to practice because it trains you to actively listen for and pinpoint subtle guitar phrasing ideas on your own. When you describe how each slide variation feels, simply use descriptive words that will help you remember the idea itself (the words themselves are not that important). If you need to, watch the video several times until you have completed your list.
Step 3: To change your lead guitar lick from the first step into a killer guitar lick, use the slide variations in your list from the previous step to accent the final note of the phrase. By simply changing the way you play the final note of the lick, you will notice that each new variation sounds much more powerful than the original phrase. Once you have tried all of the different variations from your list (that you saw me do on the video), start coming up with your own unique variations using the same concept. There are countless ways that you can accent a note using this phrasing concept. Be creative and try to come up with at least 5-10 variations. Next, add all of your new ideas to the list you began in step two (with descriptions) and play through them all several times.
Step 4: To expand upon the different variations in your list from the previous step, you will now add even more intensity into your phrase by applying vibrato/bending to the last note after approaching it with a slide. Use the video as a reference for new ideas and write down a short description for each new bend/vibrato variation you see. Then think of your own ideas (just like you did in the previous step). This will give you even more phrasing options to enhance your creative possibilities. Next, play one of the new variations you made and compare it to the guitar lick from the first step in this exercise. You will see a big improvement in the overall quality and intensity of the two licks.
Step 5: After you have enhanced a single lead guitar lick using this exercise, repeat the previous steps with several other licks you are familiar with.
After you complete this exercise several times, it will become much easier for you to play great guitar licks with little effort.
Since the final note of a guitar lick is often the one that most people notice, you can quickly improve any of your phrases by focusing your efforts on emphasizing this note. However, you can also use the ideas of this article to improve any other note in your guitar licks. In the second part of this article series, I will discuss how to do this in more detail.
In the meantime, use the information in these free video guitar lessons to learn many new approaches that will improve your lead guitar soloing skills.
Tom Hess is a professional touring guitarist and recording artist. He teaches, trains and mentors musicians from around the world.
Send comments or questions to: